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Vilnius Mama Jazz 2017

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    Posted: 04 Jan 2018 at 2:01pm

Pharoah Sanders Flips Lids Alongside Vilnius Fest's International Cast (Mama Jazz Report Pt.2)



Vilnius Mama Jazz is the younger sibling of the three-decades-old Vilnius Jazz Festival, which has carefully built a reputation for adventurous, improvisationally-based programming. For some inexplicable reason, Mama Jazz takes place only a month after the VJF, but at least this maintains the momentum, as one excellent festival runs on to the next. On the surface, Mama Jazz has a more mainline orientation, but for this 16th edition there was no lack of extremity among its artists.

For the first three days, Mama's scene revolved around the international acts presented at the Tamsta music club, with its semi-circular stage and crow's nest balcony. Three or four bands played each night. Quite Sublime (a risky name) united four players from four European lands in spumy funk, with warm tenor saxophone, following Brecker and then Sanborn, when alto was selected. Jazzybit(Romania) exist on the crowded GoGo Penguin piano trio plain, but displayed a welcome toughness, with Teodor Pop switching between acoustic and Nord, both of these attacked percussively, as he impressively slid between piano and rippling organ sounds. 'Amor Moon' had a plodding boogie basis, but their third tune cut sharply to salsa, Pop flaying his virtual organ with bruiser abandon. The first night closed with Italian pianist Lorenzo De Finti's quartet, presenting 45 minutes of his slightly edited suite, a lyrical excursion, with pointillist keys and peppercorn trumpet, passing through many moods. A powerful combination of piano and bass notes produced deep resonance, and an emphatic chordal pounding climax.

The second evening had Quantum Trio (Poland) again stalking Bad-GoGo-Svensson-Plus territory, but one of their best pieces featured a piano/drums duo with a flamenco lilt, followed by 'Entanglement', which made a harder strut, developing a dub skip. Dogon(Switzerland) followed, improving as they got heavier, their guitar/bass/drums formation facilitating a Wayne Krantz complexity, with a stand-out, mildly distorted, Arabo-Andalusian-styled guitar solo from Eric HunzikerAmazonas (Sweden) looked like a more experienced crew, creating a frisky bustle, with heavy bassline quake and lively alto/soprano exchanges. When Biggi Vinkeloeswapped saxophone for flute, joining the attractively disembodied bass, they started to sound like classic period Gong. H.Soror(Ukraine) are a tenor, electric bass and drums trio, dedicated to a 1990s-era rock influenced jazz, building a slurred slurry trough of slow groove that eventually graduated to slack dirge, barely destined to crawl out of their sacks in the morning.

On Friday night, the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre began its three days of headliner sets, but there was still one last session booked at Tamsta. Guitar power trios could be quite exhilarating, as an antidote to the continuing plague of piano threesomes! The Bodhisattwa Trio (India) made a rubbery slink with 'Cronos', their native ingredients comparatively subtle, but residing mostly in the sliding string-bends of their leader's guitar solos. A meaty bassline on 'Convergence' led to the introduction of space to increase dynamics, with a sudden heavy dub bridge leading to a crazed drum solo, infested by strafing guitar punctuations. Bringing a welcome climax, the ultra-confident projectile crew of Naked (Serbia) used tenor saxophone, violin, bass and drums at a high-energy setting, riddled with earthy toughness, their rhythm team's rapport elastically supporting a switch to clarinet, with grainy hardass fiddling creating a fresh genre called free gypsy, negotiated at a speeding punk rate. Audience communication reached profound levels, deep into the night.


On the main concert stage, Get the Blessing (Bristol) addressed 'Green Herring', the "least trustworthy of all the fish" (one of bassman Jim Barr's often profound observations). It's a groover, emanating electric extensions, relaxing the crowd for 'OCDC', and its speedy audience clapping-support, always integral to success. This foursome unite filmic roadster themes, effects trims, and strictly edited soloing, regurgitating the perfect combination of foot-and-bonce entwined majesty. Next, Norway's Jaga Jazzist continued to refine their headbanging pomp jazz complexity, nowadays becoming too much of a precision engineered juggernaut, leaving not much to chance, and demanding that someone open the windows. This hyper-evolved state is something that's still capable of giving pleasure, fortunately.

On the last night, the Neil Cowley Trio prepared the way for the Pharoah Sanders Quartet, laying down a complete contrast of mood, dwelling on the hyperactive side of town, and fuelled by their pianist leader's almost manic wit. Sadly, it must be said that Cowley's more recent tunes, deliberately simple and direct (compared to his old songbook), pale beside those original chestnuts. Sometimes the trio sounded a touch rigidly metronomic, but the loosening came via the verbal introductions rather than the music itself. Sanders (Los Angeles) was joined, as ever, by pianist William Henderson, plus the London team of bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo. At first, the tenorman was spreading out his impressionistic character, with waves of sound and feeling, but steadily, Sanders rose up out of the swirls with some bite, and once he began the heavier blowing, the soloing took on an epic scale, loaded with detailed accents and embellishments. The set eventually tipped over 90 minutes, which was well beyond the saxophonist's accustomed duration. Sanders merely hinted at 'The Creator Has A Master Plan', which was another very unusual move, to forgo playing his signature number in full.

– Martin Longley
– Photos by John Sharpe

from  www.jazzwisemagazine.com

Edited by snobb - 04 Jan 2018 at 2:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Jan 2018 at 12:30pm
Liudas Mockūnas Leads Lithuanian Charge At Vilnius' Mother Of All Jazz Fest (Mama Jazz Report Pt.1)


The absolute highlight of the Vilnius Mama Jazz festival was a meeting between two-thirds of the Ganelin Trio and the 13-piece Lithuanian Art Orchestra, presenting a very rare chance to witness these revered Russians in action. Drummer Vladimir Tarasov has been living in Lithuania since 1968, and alto-saxophonist Vladimir Chekasin followed him in 1971. Both of them hit 70 in 2017. Tarasov formed the LAO 26 years ago, as a vehicle for his large-scale compositions, often film or theatre scores. The Mama Jazz line-up featured trumpets, saxophones, trombones, bassoon, guitar, piano, bass, drums and percussion (these last pair in addition to Tarasov himself).

The concert opened with Jones Jones, a curious name for a trio featuring Tarasov, with his longtime US collaborators Mark Dresser (bass) and Larry Ochs (saxophones, below). Their mission was to improvise, often leaving sensitive spaces between each other's contributions. The timpani provided a major voice in Tarasov's extensively augmented kit, its foot-pedal allowing ample bending of pitches. The blurred noir tenor of Ochs stalked around Dresser's self-hampered walking bass, turning into a linear ramble when Larry switched to sopranino. Tarasov provided a highlight, with an expansively scaled avalanche solo on timp, gongs and his multitude of tuned drumheads.


For the main set, each of the Vlads led the LAO through their latest work, with Chekasin striking first. Initially, he looked like some interloper stagehand, with a microphone strapped to his cranium, barking instructions at the ranks, and then, as Chekasin upped the supreme aggression quotient, a rampant staccato craziness escalated. The verbal directions became part of the music, as our ears started to adapt to his speech patterns existing within this real-time sketchbook session. Chekasin managed to direct the players with a manic precision, the violent jolts always appearing to be on the verge of anarchy, creating a wonderful tension, a tension that looked like being shared equally with artists and audience. We have never witnessed a band being led in quite this fashion before, with a superbly maverick overload.

Prime Lithuanian saxophonist Liudas Mockūnas (pictured top)was caught unawares on a few occasions, so speedy were his leader's signals, but once alerted, he leapt in with a growling enormity. Guitarist Juozas Milasius had a bullring all to himself, working in an escalating independence from the horns, mangling scrapped metal like Arto Lindsay. Chekasin eventually grabbed his alto, racing through a complicated thicket, chewing and ripping. He seemed like a more agitated incarnation of Hermeto Pascoal, as he prompted three horns at stage frontal, arms waving with abandon, the music tumbling into a Nino Rota circus tent.

Tarasov's own portion of the set ('Tapestry Part 3') was necessarily more cultivated and with a settled composure, but as the drummer stood out front conducting, he possessed an impatience of his own, briefly sitting on his stool, before being called inescapably (and repeatedly) to direct some minutiae of the performance. Tarasov's music was more precisely sculpted, using tonal washes and layers of colouration, with poetry periodically intoned from the wings. Towards the end, Tarasov called back Chekasin, Ochs and Dresser, and the leader sat at his kit, guiding some of the set's finest passages with percussive sensitivity, skittering inside his imaginative soundworld.

Doubtless programmed in sympathy with the expected out-there sounds of the evening, the afternoon freebie foyer showcase sets displayed the state of young Lithuanian jazz: hardcore blowing and free-storming! Ku.Piece formed specially for the festival, although featuring key players from existing local combos, not least saxophonist Klaudijus Stuopinis and guitarist Dominykas Norkūnas, both members of the mind-blowing TDT. Their compositions had a strong improvisatory feel, the set starting with small sounds, then hitting with baritone saxophone and growling bowed bass. Even so, Ku.Piece were strangely restful, before graduating to a heavier manifestation, complete with behemoth forest-crashing.

Shinkarenko Jazz 4N had a jazz rockin' sound, with drums, electric bass and twin saxophones, heading towards a bounding, forceful Coltrane-ised climax. Dziazlaif have been together for a year, power-thrusting with soprano and baritone saxophones, alternating quiet spells with heart-attack eruptions, Sabbathy doom riffs and heavy slamming.

Perhaps the increasingly established reputation of Liudas Mockūnas has influenced the Lithuanian love for baritone saxophone. Following his powerful showing as part of the LAO, Mockūnas fronted a trio to close the evening, again on the freebie stage, joined by Arnas Mikalenas (piano) and Hεkon Berre (drums). Their set ranged from classicist filaments down to low-end roaring (with Mockūnas now on bass saxophone), vibrantly concluding this energised day of primarily Lithuanian explosiveness.

– Martin Longley
– Photos by John Sharpe

from  www.jazzwisemagazine.com

Edited by snobb - 02 Jan 2018 at 12:31pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2017 at 2:31pm
additional gig:

November 16 ,   19.00 
Umiastovskiai Palace, Trakų st. 2  Vilnius   (festival pass holders only) 

– guitar

  Elvijs Grafcovs

– organ, piano, keyboards

  Māris Vitkus

– bass

  Valters Sprūdžs

– drums

  Andris Buiķis

– tenor sax

  Māris Jēkabsons

– trumpet

  Oskars Ozoliņš

– trombone

  Laura Rozenberga

– baritone sax

  Kristaps Lubovs

Edited by snobb - 07 Nov 2017 at 2:33pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 2017 at 11:35am

November 17
19.00 Lithuanian National Drama Theatre Main Auditorium

– sax and electronics   Jake McMurchie 
– trumpet and electronics   Pete Judge 
– drums  Clive Deamer 
– bass  Jim Barr

-  guitars & effects   Marcus Forsgren 
-  bass & keyboards  Even Ormestad 
– vibraphone, guitars, drums & electronics  Andreas Mjψs  
– tuba & percussion  Line Horntveth 
-  drums & drum   Martin Horntveth 
– tenor sax, bass   Lars Horntveth 
-  keyboards  Ψystein Moen 
– trombone & percussion  Erik Johannessen

November 18
19.00 Lithuanian National Drama Theatre Main Auditorium 
JONES JONES   Lithuania, USA 
– bass   Mark Dresser 
– saxophones   Larry Ochs 
– percussion  Vladimir Tarasov 

– percussion  Vladimir Tarasov 
-  saxophone   Vladimir Chekasin

November 19
19.00 Lithuanian National Drama Theatre Main Auditorium

NEIL COWLEY TRIO  Great Britain 
– piano   Neil Cowley 
– bass   Rex Horan 
– drums  Evan Jenkins

– tenor saxophone   Pharoah Sanders 
– piano   William Henderson 
-  bass   Oli Hayhurst 
– drums  Gene Calderazzo

Edited by snobb - 13 Oct 2017 at 11:49am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 2017 at 11:08am
Showcase Stage

November 15

19.00   Music Club TAMSTA

QUITE SUBLIME  Lithuania, the Netherlands
– sopr, alt, tnr sax   Karolis Šarkus
– guitar   Jonathan Dafgεrd 
– double bass   Daniel Nagel 
– drums   Enea Besana 

– keys   Teodor Pop 
– bass   Mihai Moldoveanu 
– drums   Szabσ Csongor Zsolt   

– piano   Lorenzo De Finti 
– double bass   Stefano Dall'Ora 
– drums   Marco Castiglioni 
– trumpet   Gendrickson Mena

November 16
21.00   Music Club TAMSTA 

– alt, tnr sax   Michał Jan Ciesielski 
– piano   Kamil Zawiślak 
– drums   Luis Mora Matus  

AMAZONAS  Sweeden 
– flute, alt sax   Biggi Vinkeloe 
– sopr sax   Thomas Gustafsson 
– bass   Annika Tφrnqvist 
– drums   Anders Kjellberg  

H.SOROR  Ukraine 
– bass   Natasha Steel 
– drums   Natasha Pyrohova 
– sax   Mykola Lebed 

– reeds   Liudas Mockūnas (LT) 
– piano, accordion   Arnas Mikalkėnas (LT) 
– drums   Hakon Berre (NO)
November 17
22.00   Music Club TAMSTA 

DOGON Switzerland 
– guitar   Eric Hunziker 
– bass   Thomas Tavano 
– drums   Tobias Hunziker

– guitar   Bodhisattwa Ghosh 
– bass   Bijit Bhattacharya 
– drums   Premjit Dutta

– piano   Paweł Kaczmarczyk 
– double bass   Kuba Dworak 
– drums   Dawid Fortuna

NAKED Serbia 
– bass guitar   Branislav Radojkovic 
– drums, percussion   Goran Milosevic 
– violin   Djordje Mijuskovic 
– clarinet, sax   Rastko Uzunovic

November 18
15.25  Lithuanian National Drama Theatre Lobby Stage

– guitar   Deimantas Jurevičius 
– bass   Nojus Drąsutis 
– drums   Kristupas Kmitas 
– keys   Domas Žeromskas 
– trumpet   Mantvydas Leonas Pranulis

– bass   Leonidas Šinkarenka 
– sax  Vytautas Labutis 
– sax   Janas Maksimovičius 
– drums  Linas Būda

KU.PIECE Lithuania 
– double bass  Donatas Bielunskis 
 - drums  Mantas Augustaitis 
-  guitar  Paulius Vaškas 
– sax   Simonas Šipavičius

Edited by snobb - 13 Oct 2017 at 11:33am
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